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Decisions for the New Year (continued) Joshua 24:13-24

Joshua 24:13-24
Truly each one of us will be faced with a need to make decisions. This coming year, you and I will have to make a significant decision that will surely affect our lives and the lives of people we love and the lives of other people around us that is within our circle of influence. Amidst all that was happening in the world during the time of Joshua, the great deal of sin, immortality, disobedience and rebellion, Joshua took a bold stand and made a decision. He made a decision of commitment about serving the Lord (v. 14-15) as well as a decision to embrace and obey and tell others about the values, commands, and principles of God.
Making a decision to trust God.
· I am sure that there will be days before us this new year that you and I will be greatly stretched by our faith and by our circumstances. There will be situations that I think God will arrange and some He will allow that will stretch us to the point where it will require a great deal of faith on our part to really believe that God is able to see us through it. We will find ourselves in situations that will be unfamiliar to us or situations where we will not be sure of what to do and God is going to ask us to trust Him. We will be stretched and you and I will either trust the Lord more or believe that He fails us and doesn’t care. God wants to do the impossible in our lives this year, but are we going believe Him more than we have ever done so before and see Him do amazing things? Are we going to make a decision to trust Him or not? You and I will be faced with making this decision.
Making a decision to make our familia a priority.
· Some of us will and some of us won’t make our home, our family a priority. But some will decide like Joshua did (v.15) and we should do the same.
· Proverbs 6:20 “My son, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” This scripture verse suggests that fathers and mothers are really speaking about the commands of God in our home relationships. It assumes that we are talking about the principles of God and not only speaking it into the lives of our familia but also taking the time to listen to them and observe the concerns they may have. I believe that all of us will have a great amount of opportunities this year to spend time talking about the things of God to people we love and listening to their concerns.
· Why should the commands of God be a priority in our homes, in our lives, in the lives of those we love? (Proverbs 6:22-23; Deuteronomy 6:5-9).
◦ When you and I make God and His commands the priority in our life, it will lead and guide us. It will save us from confusion, mistakes and failures. We will know clearly the path to take.
◦ When you and I make a decision to put God and His commands first, we actually get sleep and rest because we know that God is going to care for us, watch over us and the affairs of our lives.
◦ You and I will constantly feel a sense of confidence as the Lord will speak into our lives because we decided to put Him first.
◦ His commands and ways become a light and lamp and brings clarity and revelation in those dark times when we don’t know what to do.
◦ Yes His commands will lead us to do what is right but it will also tell us when you and I are wrong and off the wrong path.
Making a decision to look for opportunities to grow in the Word of God.
· Time in God’s Word will help you and I resist the temptations that we will face and there are all kinds of them. In particular, the temptation of pride. Pride that causes you and I to think that we can survive on our own without God and His help. The Word of God will surely humble us (Psalm 119:11). It will also help us to live wisely (Psalm 119:105). It will strengthen us everyday because it gives us hope (Psalm 119:49). It will bring comfort to our hearts (Jeremiah 15:16). It brings courage to trust God to do things, and let Him be God (Joshua 1:6-9; Psalm 46:10). Familia, spiritual survival is not possible without nourishment from the Word of God. God’s Word is essential to us as believers (Deuteronomy 8:3). As we begin a new year, let each of us commit to daily spending time in the Word. It will help us meet every challenge. Whatever we face this year, God’s promises are there for you and for me.

Decisions for the New Year (Joshua 24:13-24)

Joshua 24:13-24
What’s ahead of us is a year of decisions for all of us. I’m sure you can agree that in some way or another all of us will make numerous decisions that will have significant impact upon our own lives, in the people we love and in the circumstances of our day to day life. Surely the days ahead of us will be filled with a lot of good days, but I am also sure that this coming year will also have its share of bad days as well. But it doesn’t really matter if our days are good or bad because God is faithful in the midst of it. Our God will always show us the way to go and the way to get out of bad days. Our God knows what is ahead and will go with us wherever we go and will help us, guide us and direct us. That is if we allow Him to do so.
I believe that there will be things that each of us are going to be called to do this coming year. I’m not simply talking about the things God is going to do, but more so and more importantly what you and I are going to be called to do by God. The message to Joshua and the Israelites is that they will be needing to make a decision. And the decision is who are they going to serve and who are they going to live for. The message for us today is the same and we too will need to make a decision. A decision as to who it is that you and I will choose to be Lord and God of our lives. You and I will need to make a decision as to how the Lord fits into our lives, our home, our family. Yes, a decision as how the Lord fits into our everyday lives.
Faced with a decision.
1. All of us are going to make extremely important decisions. In the days and the New Year to come you and I will have to come to a serious decision about making God first and showing it by how we live (vs. 14-15).
· God reminded the Israelites of what they had is because of Him (vs.2-13). And because of all that He has done for them they were exhorted to trust the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness and throw away the false gods that their fathers have worshiped and the gods of their conquered land. Joshua made a bold decision of commitment himself and proclaimed that he and his household will serve the Lord, seek and call upon His Name every day of his life (v.14-15).
· Understand that our lives are made by the decisions we make. When you look back at your life, you will see that where you are today and what you are going through now is the direct result of the decisions you have made. And grant it that you and I have made bad decisions and thank the Lord that we have made good ones too. Ultimately the decisions we make is what affects our lives. I often say that the decisions we make today will surely affect our tomorrows. The question is, What are you going to do? Are you going to be influenced by the worlds ways, by the pressure that comes from those around you or are you going to decide to choose to really follow God and love and serve Him?
2. All of us will be called to make decisions about real values that we choose and embrace.
· It is one thing to say God is everything, but it is another thing to live it out. Are the values, commands, the ways of God really important to you and me? Why would you want to decide to choose to embrace the values of God? Familia, when you love the Lord, put Him first, respond and obey His commands, then it is for your own good. It will bring blessings and life. It is for our good and survival and the future of our lives and those we love.
· Deuteronomy 6:24 “The Lord commands us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today.” We are commanded to be committed to His commands and teach our children, tell people how important the ways of God is in our lives. We are to bind them upon our hearts. (Deuteronomy 6:6-8; Proverbs 6:21; Joshua 1:1-9).
· Remember that God so loved that He gave His son and whoever receives His Him receives forgiveness of sin and eternal salvation. But He has also given us His ways, His commands, His principles for our benefit so that our life will have its highest fulfillment and riches blessings release when they are received and obeyed. God’s love is not separated from His ways and His commands.
3. All of us will reap great consequences from the decisions we have made and will make this coming year.
· If you and I put God first and decide to choose to make Him Lord and commit ourselves to holding firm to what we know and believe are His commands and values, then God will honor and bless you and I for it. I don’t know how or when, but I know He would because He is faithful.
Each of us will make a decision to choose for ourselves this day whom we will serve, and may our decision be to choose to trust, serve, worship the Lord.

The Loving Heart of God (John 3:16)

John 3:16
Are you in a situation that you feel there is no hope? Whether the difficulty is physical, financial or relational, it can feel like what the Bible defines as perishing. Our problems does not simply just go away because it’s Christmas season. But Jesus offers a freedom you and I can have based on John 3:16. And if we focus on what Jesus came to do, we can find new hope and strength for making it through. Christ is ready and willing to help us and bless us. We can have this hope because of the loving heart of God towards us that gives. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
The Christmas message.
The center of the Christmas message is the Son of God. But the heart of it is that God sent Jesus because He did not want people, anyone of us to perish. To perish is not just to not know eternal salvation, but also to live trapped in the numerous things that burdens and hinders life and shatters hope that has come down from generation to generation or brought down upon ourselves from something we have done even in recent days. Life begins to dry up, decay, fall apart and die. And a person who is honest acknowledges that truly it’s because of brokenness, failure and sin. Sin is something we often do not want to talk about. But we need to know that sin grieves God not because bad things make Him mad, but because bad things ruins what He intended. Sin ruins and causes perishing.
For God so loved the world that whoever receives His Son receives forgiveness of sin and eternal salvation. But it doesn’t end here. He has also given us His ways, His commands, His principles, resources and help that if we are open to receiving from Him, then He will take away or restore what is dying in our lives and decaying around us. We need to understand that God’s love is not separated from His ways and His commands. As we focus on the mercy and heart of God for us, we also need to focus on the ways, commands and principles He has for us. He has given us these for our benefit so that our life will have its highest fulfillment and riches blessings release when they are received and obeyed.
This Christmas, we need to take to heart these words, “whoever believes, need not, should not perish.” But also understand that if we don’t receive, we will. There are those who have received Jesus as Savior and have the hope of eternal life. But how many of us need to receive the things the Lord wants to bring into our lives that will remove the power of other things perishing? Like perishing in our relationships, perishing in our hopes, perishing in our attention to responsibilities that we feel inadequate to do, perishing as we stumble into temptations and falling into sin that ruins and brings decay. But God is saying, whoever believes and receives will not perish. We need to allow our hearts to be embraced by this great loving heart of God that so love us that He gave His Son because He did not want things in people to perish.
The word perishing is used when someone is being destroyed or when someone was killed or tortured in battle. It also describes someone who have lost everything and have no resources and don’t know how they will make it through the day. How often do we find ourselves in a battle of life’s circumstances that takes away the Christmas joy, the sense of peace, the thrill of hope, the sense of purpose. Jesus did not promise instant relief from everything, but He did say that if we would receive, He has come that you and I might not perish in the middle of it. Jesus came, given by Father God to us so that we would know that the gift that has come to us is not only a gift of forgiveness of sin and promise of eternal life but also a gift of a provider, a healer, a comforter, a refuge who would walk with us so that you and I don’t perish in our challenging circumstances. God sent His Son to rescue us from our perishing condition.

The Love of God: Our Savior Appeared and Saved us (Titus 3:1-8)

Titus 3:1-8
We should really be amazed of the Christmas plan of God. “When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy” (Titus 3:4). In our scripture reading, the Apostle Paul reveals how we are. That at one time, we too are foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another (Titus 3:3). But because of God’s kindness, His mercy and love for all mankind, the Savior came into the world to save us.
God’s Christmas plan.
1. Jesus came to show us His plan to change people from what they were to what they could be. He came to renew and rework our hearts and life. God’s plan is special because it spares you and me from all the trouble that we could ultimately face from going our own way. Proverbs 16:25 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” God’s plans are always better than our plans. It never changes.
2. Jesus came to reveal to us God’s love and forgiveness. He came to save you and I. People who have resisted the Lord, those who don’t know the love of God are extremely weary. They work harder and longer but with no result or fulfillment because they don’t have God’s help and sustaining grace. People who have rejected God’s mercy and grace are angry because things aren’t working out. They think they can live without God and go their own way and pursue their own plans but their lives are just a mess. Then because of His kindness and Love our Savior appeared. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). For those of us who believes we are saved, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy (Titus 3:5).
3. Jesus came to show us our real purpose. That we might be like Him. To live like Him and to love like Him. This requires knowing Him and surrendering to Him. When we do, He helps accomplish a lot of things. He helps us resist temptations (Psalm 119:11). Knowing Him gives direction to our lives to live wisely (Psalm 119:105). Knowing Him gives us strength and hope to carry on during difficult times (Psalm 119:49). Knowing Him gives us joy (Jeremiah 15:16). Knowing Him helps us to witness and tell people why we are different because Jesus has changed us (1 Peter 3:15). Knowing Him helps us to devote ourselves to doing what is good (Titus 3:8).

The Secret of Endurance (Hebrews 11:23-27)

Hebrews 11:23-27
What happens when people decide to put the Lord first in their lives and then choose to quit on their walk of faith or the purposes of God because things get difficult? They decide that the Lord is the most important thing to them, but then things become hard and they choose to not follow Him anymore or no longer continue to do the things that He called them to do. Familia, when it comes to walking with the Lord and the plans He has for us we will encounter difficult and challenging times, therefore, endurance truly becomes very important.
Moses was one who endured, persisted and kept walking with the Lord amidst all the challenges and hardship he faced in his life. Surely anybody can simply quit. It is pretty easy to quit, but we need to understand that it is extremely consequential. We can walk out from any situation anytime we want to, but the consequence of that decision is great. Moses chose to endure. He set aside what might have been an attractive life and set aside options to do other things and instead chose to endure difficulties in life for the purpose of the things of God. And the secret of his endurance was the ability to see God and His mighty hand at work.
If you and I can see the hand of God in our times of suffering, if we can see the hand of God in the moment of trial or affliction, then we can endure. When we start to get weak, and we start to question and say, "Why, God?" If we can only just come to the realization that all things are working together for good to those who love God and that God has a purpose. When we understand this promise then we can endure. We can say, "God, I don't understand, I don’t know what to do but You have a reason and a plan."
Endurance requires patience on our part. Patience to stand firm, to stand your ground, to trust God. It also requires time. There are things God does right away, but there are things that are important that seem to take a little longer. In either case, we endure by trusting that in time, God will bring things about.
What happens when I don’t endure? What happens when people chose to quit?
1. It will initially affect your self image. In other words, I never become what God had intended me to be.
2. It will ultimately end God’s blessings. When you or I give up, we will never get to see God’s blessing in our life which often is just around the corner.
3. When we don’t endure and we give up trusting God, then we will miss out on the power of God. We never get to see God do great and mighty things in our lives. If we would just trust Him another day, another hour, another minute then we would not miss the power of God accomplish the things you were believing for. If you decide that you will give your life totally surrendered to God, then you will see His power revealed and released in your life like you have never seen nor imagine to be possible.
4. You are saying that “I can’t trust God anymore.”
5. You will end up putting your focus, your devotion and energy on the wrong things.
What can I do to live a life of endurance? What can I do to live a life of trusting God everyday and walking in His will?
1. Never surrender to anything but to the will of God. Choosing not to surrender to what I feel, not to what people think about me, not to what other people think I should do, not to anyone but only to God and His will.
· Joshua 24:15 “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
2. Never settle for partial victories. Don’t settle for anything less than God’s perfect will for my life.
3. Never forget the promises of God.
· When you and I see the Lord working His promises in our lives, then the giants in our life doesn’t appear to be so giant after all.
· 1 Samuel 17:37 “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
4. Never lose sight of what the Lord can do.
· Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”
· The Apostle Paul was confident with the ability of God. Too often we see our problems in light of our ability to handle them. We measure the seriousness of a situation according to our own limited power to deal with it and not with the unlimited ability of God to deal with it. Therefore, we fall into despair and then quit. It is so important that we truly learn to look at things according to God's ability.
· Hebrews 11:17-19 “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, Through Isaac shall your offspring be named. He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.”

A Song of Thanksgiving (part 2) 1 Ch 16:8-36; Lk 17:11-19

1 Chronicles 16:8-36; Luke 17:11-19
We are made to give glory to God. The highest use of our mouth and lips and voice is to give Him praise. We need to give God glory, praise and thanksgiving. Psalm 29:2 “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness.” Psalm 107:1-2 “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say this.” But often we are like the nine out of ten men who was healed of their leprosy, healed of their debilitating disease, but only one returned to thank Jesus. Jesus said in response, “Where not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” (Luke 17:17).
The men with leprosy did as they were instructed and all ten of them were healed, but then nine of them went their separate ways. Perhaps they left to celebrate their healing. Maybe they intended to share the good news with their loved ones. Maybe they were just excited to rejoin their family, their community and begin their new lives. The tenth leper likely had similar plans. I’m sure he did, but he had something else to do first. According to Luke 17:15-16, he “came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him.” Jesus was moved by the man’s response, which must have been almost as rewarding to the man as the healing itself. Because he went the extra mile to express his thankfulness, the tenth leper was able to connect with the Lord in a life changing intimate way.
Often we are quick to ask God for help during times of crisis, but we are very slow to offer Him thanks after He intervenes on our behalf. We should be devoted in our praise to God as we are in crying out to Him for help. It is truly amazing how many people receive so much from God with never a thought of thanking Him. But people will thank their “lucky stars” but not give thanks to God nor sing praises to His Name.
Being genuinely thankful doesn’t come natural or easy for us and that is why we are commanded in the Bible to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18; Ephesians 5:20). In the middle of everything, in the midst of plenty, in little or not having anything at all (Habakkuk 3:17-18), decide and choose to give God thanks. I really believe that having an attitude of thanksgiving protects our spirit and safeguards our heart from being bitter and blaming God and people.
How quickly most of us forget the goodness of God, the blessings He has given to us daily. Truly you and I have been on the receiving end of the love, grace, mercy, goodness and greatness of God. Therefore, we need to be consistent in going to our Heavenly Father and give Him praise and thanks.
I am thankful.
1. Thankful that God really loves you and me. I am thankful for the love of God. You and I really need to believe this. We need to personalize the great salvation you and I have in Jesus.
· Psalm 18:49 “Therefore I will praise you among the nations, O Lord; I will sing praises to your name.”
2. Thankful for the guidance and leading of God, His Holy Spirit in my life and yours.
· 1 Chronicles 16:8-36, David remembers the greatness of God in his life. He remembers dealing with the lions, the bears, dealing with the giant Goliath. It’s not what David does, but it’s what God does. David wanted the whole world to know and thankful for the goodness of God (1 Chronicles 16:8-9, 34).
3. Thankful for the believers, the familia of Island Hope.

A Song of Thanksgiving (Jonah 2:1-10)

Jonah 2:1-10
Why are we thankful? Why give thanks? What are you thankful for? It is so important to continue to learn and grow in the value and discipline of giving thanks in our life especially during times of difficulties and also in a time we live in today when we typically have a mind set of being privileged and deserving of everything. Surely the book of Jonah is not the book you think of when you think of thankfulness. And yet, in our text, that is exactly what you find. We find the rebellious prophet is no longer running from God, but comes to an attitude of obedience and praying to God with gratitude. Jonah says, “But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).
The Bible is clear that as Christians we are to be continually thankful whatever the circumstances are in life because of who God is and what He has done for us (1 Thessalonians 5:18; Ephesians 5:20). While it is easy to give thanks when the bills are paid, when things are good and everything is fine and not having to deal with great difficulties, it is also true that it is easy not to be thankful during these times. In other words it is as easy not to be thankful and not give God praise when things are going well. We either forget or really take things for granted. Remember that Jonah was in the belly of a big fish, but yet he was thankful. It was surprising to me that of all people Jonah would be thankful. But he was.
Thankful for:
1. Thankful for the thoughtfulness of God (v. 2,4,6). Behind everything that is going on in life, God is doing something. He is always working something out for you and I. He has our goodness and well being in mind.
2. Thankful for God’s help (v. 2). Not only is the Lord listening to our prayers but He comes and helps us.
  • Psalm 18:5-6 “The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears.”
3. Thankful for the acts of grace of God. I am thankful that God has not given me what I truly deserve (v. 10). The focus on this passage is not what’s happening inside the fish, but what is happening inside of Jonah’s heart.
  • Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  • Psalm 103:9-10 “He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”
  • God’s acts of His kindness and grace towards me is why I find myself extremely thankful. When we truly examine our life, we will see that there is so much grace flowing in you and me from our God.
4. Thankful for the nurturing heart of God. Everything that happens in our lives is for the reason of God wanting to nurture us, causing us to grow and to develop and mature.
5. Thankful for the knowledge of God. Thankful that God is aware of the imperfection in my life and yours. He sees absolutely everything and knows exactly what we need. He is actively watching over those He loves.
6. Thankful for the salvation of God (v.9). What an important lesson to learn for us, for you, for me. Salvation is not of our own works. It is not of our own efforts. Salvation comes from the Lord. Jesus Christ can change your life today, not tomorrow, but now. He can save you, redeem you and transform you now. He can make a difference right now in your life.

Why Do You Pray? (Eph 3:14-19)

Ephesians 3:14-19
What is the real motive for prayer? What is it that really motivates us to be the kind of people who pray because we believe it really makes a difference? Is our life characterize by a life of prayer? Praying in all circumstances whether the situation feels like you are in prison like the Apostle Paul was or whether free and enjoying everything that you can ever want or imagine (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Ephesians 6:18).
The Apostle Paul teaches us about prayer.
1. Prayer is just absolutely essential. One of the most important thing we can do in life is pray. There is no greater need that we can have than to go on our knees and cry out to God and thanking Him that He is our Father.
2. Prayer is a priority. No matter the situation in life we should always consult with God first. Remember, Paul had a lot of things in his mind and they were not just the personal things of his own life, but he had great concerns about the world and what God wanted to do.
3. Prayer brings rest and peace. You rest a lot better after you come to the Lord in prayer (Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”) When you pray to your Heavenly Father there’s something about knowing that you have given it to somebody who is more concerned about it than you and more capable of fixing it and making it right than you.
What is the real motivation to pray? Why do you pray? What is the reason you and I find ourselves bowing on our knees before the Father (v.14)?
1. God is up to something. Paul was convinced that God was up to something. I need to believe that God is up to something and doing a work.
  • We pray because we have needs, struggling about something, troubled and discouraged about somethings, but these were not the reason Paul prayed. Yes, he had great needs and problems but he understood God’s desires to touch this world. Paul prayed for the cause of bringing people to God and to know Him and walk in His love and ways (Ephesians 2:16-19).
  • One of the discipline a Christian should have is to pray for everyone in their circle of influence to come to know Jesus and be transformed by His love.
2. Because God is our Father and we are His children. What are the benefits of being God’s child?
  • A sense of security. Knowing that my Heavenly Father will give me what I need, exactly when I need it (Matthew 7:7-11).
  • A sense of confidence. Have you been praying about things that are huge and seem impossible? When you stand in the mighty Name of God, there is victory, confidence that there is nothing that the enemy can do to stop what God has purposed to accomplish.
  • A sense of real commitment (Hebrews 13:5; Deuteronomy 31:6). God is committed to you and me to work things out no matter what is going in life.
3. Because people have needs (v.16). When you are praying for someone, when you are burdened for someone, here is how you should pray.
  • Pray that God will begin to work His inner strength in them. This inner strength has to do with perseverance. Paul prayed that people will be filled with inner strength deep inside, a persevering heart so they could endure and not quit in the midst of hardship.
  • Pray for spiritual depth (v.17-18). Depth in someone’s heart. Depth that says God I need your courage to stand. Real depth that says Lord I need faith in my life to trust you more. Depth that says Lord I need cleansing to remove hindrances in my life that gets in the way.
  • Spiritual depth involves dwelling in God. Simply means you feel very comfortable around God and His ways.
  • Spiritual depth involves being rooted. My life is deeply planted in the soil of faith.
  • Spiritual depth involves being grounded, steadfast and sure.
  • Pray for the fullness of God (v.19). Filled means to be controlled by, that our life is saturated by the Spirit of God.

The Impact of Prayer & Praise (Acts 16:16-34)

Acts 16:16-34
What kind of persons are Paul and Silas? We know that on this occasion from the scripture reading that they were in prison. They were in a very difficult and discouraging moment in their life. But in the midst of it, their reaction to this particular situation is truly unbelievable. I think we can see that the focus of their life even in this difficult circumstance is witnessing to the jailer and certainly encouraging the other prisoners. More so that the jailer who was surely part of those assigned to punish them, to see that this man comes to know Jesus Christ. How about us? Can you and I during our difficult time or situation in life see ourselves to be that person who is going to make an impact to others around us?
Paul and Silas response.
  • How did Paul and Silas impact the people around them? How, in the midst of their trouble see the salvation of the jailer?
1. They were focused on thinking about God by praising and worshipping Him. (v. 25; Ephesians 5:19-20)
  • During difficult and troubled situations, do you worship and sing praise to the Lord so you can get an earthquake and get out of the situation? I think this is typical of some people, but not with Paul and Silas. Either in troubling situation or when free from hardship they were constantly focused on thinking upon the Lord and praising Him. Their thoughts were fixed on the Lord which gave them peace. “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you” (Isaiah 26:3 NLT).
2. They were focused on thinking about God’s assignment for them.
  • Often we want the best conditions with regards to His assignment for our lives. We never want to assume that God will assign us to a prison type condition. But Paul and Silas had to think about God’s assignment for them amidst the condition they were in. I think they were thanking the Lord for the opportunity to sit in the jail and witness to the jailer and to be a blessing to all of the other prisoners. They concentrated on their assignment even though the conditions were not ideal. They were not concerned about what they have or don’t have.
  • We need to be asking God to help us see the opportunities to impact the people around us. That in the midst of trouble and difficult time that somehow the Lord will give you and I the capacity and strength to let all of the people that is watching and listening somehow come to figure out why there could be such peace, strength and joy in our life.
3. They were focused on thinking about God’s purpose for others. (v. 27-34)
  • They were motivated by souls, people to come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We need to think of the destiny of others. To realize God’s purpose for others, that they would know God and walk in His love.
How can you and I impact the people around us that needs to know God?
1. Know God’s Word. The Word of God is the foundation to all of our life. We need to live life by God’s ways.
2. You and I need to be a godly person. If we are to have impact on those around us then we need to be living a godly life. Be that godly person that impacts whatever it is the you do.
3. Be filled with the Holy Spirit. What God has called us to do cannot be done on our own skills, strengths and abilities. We need to constantly be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, we become reliant on methods and programs to accomplish the assignment. But it needs to be the Lord who does the work.
4. Pray. When things are not happening, no earthquake, no deliverance, no freedom, what do we do? It is for you and I to sit in the middle of the situation and worship, glorify His Name and pray. When we pray, we become patient and given the strength to persevere and contend until His purpose and assignment in our life is accomplished and the people around us is touched and witnessed to by the strength of our life that comes from being in the presence of God.

The Compassion of Jesus (Matthew 9:35-38)

Matthew 9:35-38
As we read in the scriptures, Jesus was constantly “moved with compassion for the helpless, the sick, those who are suffering (Matthew 9:35-38; 15:29-32; 20:29-34; Mark 1:40-42; Luke 7:11-16) and for those who are lost and going to their eternal death (John 3:16-17; Luke 15:20; 1 John 4:9-10). As a disciple of Christ, you and I need to understand that the “compassion of Jesus” is a vital ingredient we need to have in our heart. It is the “compassion of Jesus” once embraced into our hearts will lead us to go share the Gospel (Matthew 28:16-20), to be prayerful and to meet the needs of people (Galatians 6:9-10; Romans 12:3-21).
Do we have the “compassion of Jesus”? I think there are tendencies where our compassion for others declines and therefore, the need to be renewed and filled up again with His love. We need to constantly ask Jesus to give us His compassion for the lost, the sick, the helpless and to stir up in our hearts an urgency to help people in need and to see the lost not forcefully but lovingly called into a relationship with Jesus Christ.
The compassion of Jesus.
  • Jesus was moved with compassion by the condition of the people and had deep concern for them. The people were distressed, had no guidance, harassed, beaten down by life both physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually by diseases, sickness and by the day to day challenges of life. The people were scattered and helpless like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36; 1 Kings 22:17). And not that they didn’t have any rulers and leaders, but the rulers and leaders neglected them (Jeremiah 23:1; Ezekiel 34:1-6).
  • Jesus’ compassion for people moved Him to action. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, raised the dead, made the lame to walk and the blind to see, casted demons out, taught and preached the good news of the kingdom and forgave people their sins (Isaiah 61:1-3; John 3:16-17).
  • Jesus’ compassion moved Him to prayer. Not only did Jesus spend time in prayer for the lost sheep of Israel, for His disciples and for all believers (John 17:6-26; Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1), but He also instructed His disciples to pray (Matthew 9:38). Is the compassion of Jesus moving us to pray and labor for souls?
  • Jesus’ compassion moved Him to call out and commission His disciples to go and do as He did (Matthew 10:1; 28:19-20; Ephesians 4:11-12; John 14:12; Matthew 25:35-43).
People matter to God and they must also matter to us as Believers. We need to ask God to give us the “compassion of Jesus” for the lost and the needy. We need to ask God to stir up in our hearts a passion to serve and an urgency to pray. We need to ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field that includes us. Will you be willing to pray for reaching the lost and serving the needy for Jesus Christ? Will you be willing to pray, to give and to go? Familia, there is a continual call of God for us to prayer and to action. We need to ask Him to show us how to pray and how to move into action within our community. I believe that as we pray and move into action together united in Christ, we will see healing and restoration in our islands.
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